Set Clear Expectations
Setting expectations is one of the basic fundamentals of leadership; yet, many managers fail to make clear requests that have no room for interpretation. The first step towards setting clear expectations is planning. The more time you dedicate to planning, the more effective your team will be when they start executing. The second component of setting clear expectations requires great communication skills. Your employees want to be on the same page as you, they want to make smart decisions, but they cannot read minds. Rephrase your requests in a way that can be heard – and often several times – before they become internalized by others.
Document your Expectations
Making clear requests is a great start when it comes to limiting employee mistakes, but overtime, people tend to forget what was agreed upon and you can still fall into the “I said, he said” trap. If you feel that your request can misinterpreted than what you intended, make sure that you document it in writing or using electronic systems. There are many systems that allow assigning employees to tasks while allowing them to ask questions, give updates, and request more information. It also gives you a point of reference if there is a problem later on.
Address Problems with Facts
Mistakes happen to the best employees and systems, whether intentional or due to negligence. When the time to address mistakes with your team comes, you need to focus the team’s attention on facts instead of feelings or personal issues. This doesn’t mean that you need to eliminate any emotional charge out of the conversation; you need to tackle the mistake in a factual approach by referring back to the initial request and the documentation. By doing so, you will be able to pinpoint the team members who were incompetent from those who simply misunderstood the request.
Document the Mistakes
Smart companies know the difference between a lesson learned and finding a permanent solution for it. Learning a lesson from mistakes happens only when we take responsibility for the mistake, try different approaches to achieve different results, and then integrate best practices into the company’s culture by documenting all cases. Create some type of knowledge management system which could be as simple as a spreadsheet. This sheet will allow you to document the mistakes, the causes and the solutions, and then you can create some type of standard operating procedures. Once you share it with your employees, make sure that you periodically refer to it to ensure that the lesson has truly been learned and similar mistakes are less likely to be repeated.